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The old web is dying - are you ready for battle?

July 14, 20233 min read

The world is either sound asleep and deaf to the warnings or has already succumbed to the, "latest bright, shiny object" which is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Yes it will change things.

Yes, your business should look at how you might take advantage of it.

Yes, there are pitfalls for the unwary.

Yes, if you use it to handle other people's data, you should be clear that you use it.

No, the world won't stop turning. There are activities in the world which won't change because of AI.

AI is changing the internet

The problem you face is that AI is changing the internet. It is changing this based on what it has learned from the internet which currently exists. The "Web 2.0" version of the internet, in which privacy was not a priority.

AI is not learning from Web 3.0, where the agency of the individual is much stronger.

As a result, it's all a bit worrying. I don't mean in the sense that Arnie will hove into view as Terminator and kill us all. I mean that it's worrying in the sense that nobody really seems to know how it works - and currently, that's a problem.

I take as my inspiration for this blog post the excellent article by James Vincent on The Verge blog. (click this link to read it)

Enshittification

Any writer who is capable of using a word such as this in polite conversation is worth reading.

The writer talks about AI and the "enshittification" of TikTok (just when I thought it couldn't get any worse) and the "junkification" of Amazon.

As AI ensures the internet consumes its own entrails, the rest of us are expected to believe that this is always a good thing?

I don't think so. At least, not the large language model of AI which has been the subject so far this year.

Of course there are ideas it can give you. of course there will be tasks it can simplify or do better.

Will it replace employees? In some cases, yes. In many cases no.

The only reason AI looks as though it can do a better job is because most employees are poorly recruited, onboarded, trained, managed and motivated in the first place. If your business relies upon personal interaction, AI isn't going to improve that overnight.

The battle is coming

The part of the looming battle I'm interested in is going to be about how personal data is used.

This is changing because of AI. It is being threatened. Your personal data will be more vulnerable as a result.

For businesses, the challenge will be how they go about protecting their supply lines. The flow of personal data through their business - the personal data from which they extract value as they find customers make sales and glean profits.

From collecting personal data to finally disposing of it (or giving it back) - the flow is under different pressures now. Yet the means to protect those data flows are still there in data protection regulations such as the GDPR.

The data protection principles remain the same.

Privacy rights remain the same.

How well your business is able to compete in a world dominated by AI will depend in part upon your ability to collect and use personal data legally, safely and with transparency.

In that regard, nothing has changed.

Except that now you might take another look at just how effective your business is at doing this stuff.

It's all about to become very important - and happen very fast.

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Allan Simpson

Privacy management blogger

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